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  • Fawn Baranko

5 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Gas Fireplace

The only thing worse than smelling that rotten egg smell that tells you there's a gas leak in your home is being halfway across the country when your Mom & kids smell it and they casually mention on your next phone call, "Well, there was a gas leak..." Thankfully the neighbors helped contact the gas company who determined the smell was coming from the gas fireplace and shut the valve off. And my mother, who is from the South, had a great story to tell everyone back home when they asked how the visit with the grandkids was (Gassy! But the neighbors were great!). That was back in February. Finally, after months of dodging what I assumed would be a huge bill to repair a gas leak, I contacted a local fireplace business and scheduled a master plumber (Jon from James A Wheat & Sons) to fix the problem. The morning of his visit, I cleared the furniture and area rug from the front of the fireplace, seeking to diminish any judgement on my repair procrastination with a clean workspace. I like to be a well-rounded interior designer, so I always stay with anyone who does work on my house and learn what I can from them...and I can always find an interior design angle. Jon immediately checked for leaks from the gas pipe that feeds the fireplace by rubbing a mild dish detergent and water solution on the joints, and watching for bubble formations. The good news? There were no gas leaks requiring expensive repair. The bad news? The smell came from gas not being able to flow freely through the fire vents, due to my lack of proper fireplace maintenance. Here are 5 awesome things I learned from Jon that improved my gas fireplace:

  1. You really should get your fireplace checked by a professional once a year to verify there's no debris clogging the fire vents, the fireplace components aren't deteriorating, and the system works properly. After Jon's visit, the height of the flames nearly doubled.... I've lived here 10 years and never knew it could be so robust!

  2. There's an art to placing those ceramic logs, which includes giving them enough space for flames to flow unimpeded. Jon said unlike the tightly packed Jenga creation I made (my words), you should be able to place a fist between the logs. The fire definitely looked more natural with the logs placed correctly.

  3. Clean the logs with a gentle brush or soapy sponge, but never get them overly wet. Water trapped inside expands and pops the logs. That would have made another interesting phone call to my Mom. (How was the visit with the grandkids? Explosive!)

  4. The best way to clean a brick hearth involves a mild detergent and water solution, a scrub brush, and recreating the scene from Cinderella where she's scrubbing the hearth and wishing she was at the ball instead. I have to admit, that hearth has never looked better, though I did wish I had a child nearby to do the job. So now it's official that I've reached the age where I'm more like a Disney stepmother than a princess.

  5. Painting the walls and log holder with high temperature stove spray paint really improves the appearance of the fireplace interior. This special formulation withstands the intense heat of the fire without peeling or melting. You can use matte finish, but satin reflects even more firelight for maximal romantic vibe. See? There's always an interior design angle!